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Campernelle Jonquil

Narcissus x odorus

This sweet little starry-eyed beauty disappeared nearly as soon as it appeared. Out of about 10 bulbs, this was the only bloom (as I write in February 2008). Campernelles are sweetly fragranced with dainty blossoms and wiry (often called rush-like) leaves. This is an easy way to tell many jonquils apart from modern daffodils or tazettas.

Jonquils, at least the varieties technically called Jonquils and descended from that species, are a good choice for Texas. In my confusion about the various Divisions and names of daffodils, I wrote a Texas daffodil society, and a gardener kindly wrote me back a detailed email about the different kinds Texans grow and share. He said that the best choices were from Divisions 7 and 8, which includes the tazettas and the jonquils.

Scott Ogden in his book Garden Bulbs for the South, writes that because of their native species environment and their love of warm winters, Jonquils have great potential for breeding for southern climates but many of the modern jonquil hybrids have been bred in places like New Zealand and Oregon, which have warm winters but cooler summers than is typical of the Deep South.

In any case, Campernelle is a very old Jonquil hybrid which many believe naturally occurred in the wild as a cross between the species Narcissus jonquilla and another species Narcissus pseudonarcissus. It is well-loved and naturalized in the south and is now being sold by heirloom bulb sellers who have reclaimed it from old southern plantings.

I started with just a few bulbs that I bought from a southern heirloom seller, and which I hope to keep multiplying myself. I’ve now moved mine twice since I seem to keep putting them in places where they’re’ not getting enough sun, so I highly recommending giving these dainty beauties lots of winter sunshine. Like ‘Grand Primo’ tazetta and the ‘Trevithian’ daffodil, it doesn’t mind heavy or wet soils (i.e., it won’t rot!).